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Push for Phnom Penh

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Vietnamese tank at Kbal Thnal south of Phnom Penh January 1979 DING FONG / DC-CAM

Push for Phnom Penh

A Vietnamese tank rolls through the streets of Kbal Thnal, south of Phnom Penh, in January of 1979.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party expects a showing of more than 10,000 supporters today to mark the 37th anniversary of the Khmer Rouge regime’s toppling.

Backed by the Vietnamese army, the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation rolled into Phnom Penh on January 7, 1979, ousting the Pol Pot-led government, which fled to the western border and waged a protracted civil war.

The movement, which then formed the People’s Republic of Kampuchea government, contained the nucleus of the CPP – including Prime Minister Hun Sen, National Assembly President Heng Samrin and late Senate president Chea Sim – who have remained in power since.

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday took to Facebook to celebrate. ‘If there was no January 7, there would be . . . no peace negotiations between [King Norodom] Sihanouk and Hun Sen, and no Paris Peace Agreement,’ he wrote.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said Hun Sen would deliver a speech at an event at CPP headquarters.

Though celebrated by the ruling party, the January 7 capturing of Phnom Penh by the Front is also mired in controversy, with many opponents labelling it an ‘invasion’ by Vietnam.

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